In an effort to prevent sending Great Lakes water to far off places andmake surewe are usingwater responsibly, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River BasinWater Resources Compact and companion Agreement were developed between the eight Great Lakes Governors and Premiers of Ontario and Quebec.
The Compact and Agreement provide guidelines for sound water management and stopping far off diversions. For the Compact to become legally binding, each of the eight Great Lakes state legislatures must pass the Compact and gain approval from Congress. On the Canadian side, the provinces have agreed to implement similar laws to ensure the entire Great Lakes basin is protected.
What is happening and what can you do? On June 1st, 2007 the Ontario Legislature passed the Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Act,which implements the historic Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin SustainableWater Resources Agreement. It also enables the province to start charging commercial and industrial users for the water they take and use. For more information, contact John Jackson from Great Lakes United at (519) 744-7503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Quebec National Assembly approved the Agreement on November 30, 2006. The Ministry of Environment has forwarded the Agreement on to drafters to develop the appropriate articles of law, which should take about four to five months. For more information, contact Marc Hudon from Nature Quebec at email@example.com.
In Michigan, a package of bills (HB5065-HB5073) has been introduced into the house that will bring Michigan into compliance with the eight-state Great Lakes Compact. The bills are largely supported by the environmental community. For more information, check out the “Great Lakes, Great Michigan” website at: www.greatlakesgreatmichigan.org/index.htm or contact: James Clift from Michigan Environmental Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 487-9539.
The New York Assembly has shown overwhelming support for the Compact, but due to an administrative error they must pass it one final time before it can go to Gov. Spitzer’s desk. For more information, contact Katherine Nadeau from Environmental Advocates of New York at email@example.com or (518) 462-5526.
In Pennsylvania, State Rep. Pat Harkins and several sponsors have introduced Great Lakes Compact (House Bill 1705) which has been referred to the House Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. For more information, contact Mark Gorman from Pennsylvania Environmental Council at 814-332-2946 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wide support for the compact in Ohio is being stalled by a handful of lawmakers. See the preceding article on page 9 by Kristy Meyers, Ohio Environmental Council for more details (Contact Kristy at Kristy@TheOEC.org or (614) 487-7506).
The Compact was brought to three Indiana legislative study committees over the summer. The Department of Natural Resources is hoping for endorsement fromall three committees in anticipation of a 2008 introduction, putting a significant number of legislators in support of the Compact.You can help educate your legislator during “Conservation Day at the Statehouse” on Thursday, January 10, 2008 with members of the Indiana Conservation Alliance. To register, contact Angela Hughes at (317) 951-8818. For more information on what is happening with the Compact in Indiana, contact John Goss from Indiana Wildlife Federation at (317) 875-9453 or email@example.com.
In September, the Wisconsin Legislative Study Committee on the Great Lakes Compact was disbanded by its Chair, State Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn). Because of a handful of naysayers, it was unable to reach agreement. To Governor Doyle’s credit, he is moving forward and setting up a working group to develop legislation. For more information, contact Melissa Malott from Clean Wisconsin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 251-7020.
Minnesota was the first state to ratify the Compact on February 20, 2007.Way to go Minnesota! The Illinois Governor signed the Compact on August 17th,making Illinois the second state to adopt the Compact. Way to go Illinois!